Home ENTERTAINMENT Chhalaang Movie Review: This one just about makes the cut

Chhalaang Movie Review: This one just about makes the cut

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STORY: When a young PT teacher is faced with stiff competition from a new coach, he must pull up his socks or risk losing his job, self-respect and the love of his life.

REVIEW: Mahinder Singh aka Montu (Rajkummar Rao) is a slacker. From waking up long after the sun is up to loitering around with his much older bum-chum Masterji (Saurabh Shukla), Montu has little purpose in life. He is super complacent at his job of a PT teacher in his own school, which he landed only because his father (Satish Kaushik) recommended him to the principal (Ila Arun). When he is not wandering around with Masterji, he is playing moral police, doling out instant punishment to space-starved valentine couples. During one such self-assigned patrolling, he hauls up an older couple, thinking they are just fooling around. He even names and shames them by getting their picture published in a local newspaper. But as luck would have it, their daughter Neelima aka Neelu (Nushrratt Bharuccha) ends up at the same school as the new computer teacher. While Montu instantly starts crushing on her, Neelu is obviously quite miffed with him. And thus begins nafrat pyaar ki pehli seedi kinda situation and anyone who has watched even two Bollywood films would know how that will go. But the real twist in the tale comes with the entry of a new PT coach IM Singh (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub). Riding a Royal Enflied, Singh is literally the better version of Montu, who could whisk away the poor chap’s naukri and chokri in a flash. That’s when our man Montu realises that he needs to up his game or risk losing it all, including his credibility. He declares an all-out sporting war with Singh that also puts to test his own ability to teach. So from this point onwards, some conflict and sporting action kicks in.

Ironically, the writers of ‘Chhalaang’ (Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arrora and Zeishan Quadri) never seem to take the leap of faith in making it an adrenaline pumping sporting spectacle. Neither does the movie explore the nuances of a sweet love story. It only flirts with the idea of making it a love triangle.

That said, there are parts of the second half that do spice up the proceedings. Like every sports film, ‘Chhalaang’ too, has a prep montage song (by Daler Mahendi) with the underdogs slugging it out in the run up to the D-day. Then, some of the sequences employing practical situations to impart physical training lessons to the students are novel and effectively portrayed. However, since we know precious little about the young players, it’s hard to root for them. Instead of well fleshed out characters, the focus is on showing gender equality and women empowerment. This comes across as forced. Musically, there is no rousing number even when the story calls for one.The best track ‘Khair ni Karda’ comes just before the credits roll.

Rajkummar Rao is good as always playing the unambitious PT teacher, but his act of a small-town boy next door is far too repetitive. Perhaps also because the stories from rural India are such a dominant part of his filmography. Also, his rigidly still hair looks kinda odd, even when he is getting down and dirty on the sports field. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub in his athletic avatar and sporting a moustache, fits the bill as the competitive sports teacher. Ditto, for the beautiful Nushrratt Bharuccha, who seems to be performing better with each passing film. As a progressive new-age girl, Bharuccha’s character is the consistent voice of reason.But it’s the character actors, who breathe in most realism into the narrative and also add the much needed comic relief. Among them is a superb Saurabh Shukla complimented by Ila Arun, Satish Kaushik, and an extremely endearing Baljinder Kaur. She plays Montu’s mother with utmost sincerity.



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